Bullhooks are rods with solid steel pointed ends (resembling a fireplace poker) which are specifically designed to inflict pain. If it were like a leash, it would look like a leash ... people's hands and elephant trunks are not made of steel. The claim that this weapon can be used positively is pure nonsense - the very nature of the bullhook is to dominate through fear and violence (i.e. get the elephant to fear the bullhook through violence). This is the only way it works - there are no "good" ways to use the bullhook .. which is why all sanctuaries forbid use of the bullhook and more than 50% of all zoos no longer use bullhooks. Only circuses and backward zoos and handlers still use this archaic and violent method of domination.
"No matter how gently the ankus may be used with an animal, at some point it had to be established as a negative reinforcer in order to be effective. That means causing enough pain and discomfort that the animal remembers, and seeks to avoid that experience by complying. "
- Gail Laule and Margaret Whittaker, experts in elephant training - click here for article.